Marketers at Fauquier Health in Warrenton, VA, knew they needed to advertise their organization's emphasis on personalized care to gain market share, but there was one problem: The hospital's patient experience was not up to par. So the staff began implementing experience improvements first so they could live up to their brand promise once the advertising campaign launched.
"Teamwork was the key," says Christy Connolly, vice president of strategic services at Fauquier. "Every staff member was involved in carrying out the plans—accountability is built in."
The hospital first decided to embark on a patient experience overhaul in 2007 because it was losing market share in a competitive and growing healthcare market near Washington, DC. Marketers began working with Cleveland, OH, ad agency Point to Point in the fourth quarter of that year to strengthen its brand strategy.
After analyzing focus group research, a consumer preference survey, and priority indexes from patient satisfaction surveys, Connolly and her team concluded that the key to winning over consumers is providing customized care.
"We were looking for those opportunities that were consistent with our vision and our culture—individualized care really accomplishes that," Connolly says.
Once each department had outlined its problems and began implementing the solutions, marketers worked on an advertising campaign to communicate the improvements to local consumers. Marketers created a series of print and outdoor ads that told patients they can be themselves at Fauquier.
"When you enter Fauquier, you can eat when you're hungry, sleep when you need to sleep," says Robin Segbers, vice president of Point to Point Healthcare. "You're not working with their schedule; they're working with yours. 'Be yourself' allows you to be who you are even when you're in the hospital."
The message has been a hit with consumers. The hospital has grown market share by two percentage points since the campaign launched in the second quarter of 2008, reversing a two-year decline.
The ED has seen the most drastic results, Connolly says. It now ranks in the 94th percentile compared to all Press Ganey facilities, and 74% of ED patients who were surveyed said they were very likely or likely to recommend the hospital, well above Press Ganey's 68% target number, according to a Fauquier employee newsletter.
"Once we identified what differentiated us, we looked for a way to articulate our brand," Connolly says. "Individualized care is woven into all of our messaging now."